RSNA Blog: Of patients + posters


CHICAGO—Where are “our patients” at RSNA? How are their concerns and experiences represented in the various events taking place at McCormick Center? Today, I took a combined physical and virtual tour of the education and scientific posters located on level 2 of the Lakeside Center. I found lots of diseases and body parts included in posters with titles like: “The role of (insert imaging technology here) in assessing (insert disease here) in (insert generic patient descriptor here)” or “Improving radiologist detection of (insert disease/imaging finding) with (insert fancy new imaging tool, quantitative technique, or processing algorithm).”

I don’t mean to be flippant about this kind of imaging research, which has been and remains crucial to advancing medical diagnosis and treatment. Of course patients benefit from modality-focused or disease-focused scientific exploration, just as they (we?) benefit from the further education of radiologists and refinement of their diagnostic tools and skills.

However, if we’re to “walk a mile in the patient’s shoes,” as Dr. George Bisset urged in his Presidental Address, shouldn’t we know more about those patients, their shoes, and that mile? Don’t we need scientific research that seeks to explore the imaging experience from the patient perspective? [The answer here is a resounding yes—keep in mind I’m a Medical Anthropologist!]

With this in mind, I found several posters that fit the bill, but I want to focus on two that particularly attracted my attention. The first is titled “Communication, Training and Years of Experience in Breast Imaging: Correlation with Patients’ Perceptions of Radiologist-patient Communication during Breast Biopsy Recommendation” authored by Mary Soo, Karen Johnson, Lauren Miller, et al [LL-BRS-TU3B]. In a study sample of 131 women, these authors assessed patients’ perceptions of radiologist-patient communication during breast biopsy recommendation. They then correlated these perceptions with several factors, including radiologists’ years of experience and history of formal training in patient communication. Soo and colleagues found a statistically significant association between better patient-perceived communication and radiologists who reported having communication training, indicating that formal communication training may be a valuable way to improve radiologist-patient interactions.

Another poster I particularly liked was from a group of Mayo Clinic radiologists [LL-QSE3045-THA]. Stacy Schultz, Kathleen Brandt, Karl Krecke and colleagues shared their experiences developing a Patient and Family Advisory Council for their radiology practice. They found that this council provided valuable feedback and patient perspectives on a variety of radiology products, including patient satisfaction surveys, education materials, appointment scheduling, and more. Importantly, their poster provides a model for successfully incorporating patient perspectives into radiological daily practice.

These posters give radiologists two concrete ways to put “patients first” in imaging: by being trained in communication and forming advisory councils that solicit and implement items of patient concern. Success!

Tomorrow, I enter into the belly of the beast, looking for “our patients” among the vendor exhibits…


Dr. Tillack recently completed her PhD in medical anthropology, and is currently in the MD program at the University of California–San Francisco.